How to Winterize Your Boat

Sep 6, 2016

Whether you traversed lakes and rivers or the big blue sea, you spent hours of quality time together – days, even.

But now that the temperatures are falling, it’s time to do a bit of maintenance so that she’ll be ready to go once the ice and snow melt yet again.

Follow these steps before the weather gets dangerously cold and you’ll be ready to set sail when spring rolls around. 

01. Change Your Oil

Changing your oil before it’s time to hibernate is key. But before you drain your engine, crank it and let it warm up. You’ll be able to drain the oil more fully with a warm engine. Also, don’t forget to drain and replace the gear oil as well, and check for moisture.

02. Flush Your Engine

There are plenty of products out there to help you maintain your engine when it’s not in use.

For an inboard/sterndrive engine, use water muffs or a similar device connected to a garden hose to flush the engine with cool water. Do this until the engine reaches a normal operating temperature, then remove the drain plugs to allow drainage. 

For an outboard engine, open all drain holes and start the engine before flushing the cooling system with fresh water using water muffs or a similar device connected to a garden hose. Do this for a few minutes.

03. Fill Your Tank

Full tanks leave less room for condensation to form, but you’ll need to make sure you add fuel stabilizer to prevent engine buildup (and reduced engine life). Pour in the fuel stabilizer followed by the fuel, then run the engine for a few minutes with the boat on the water to circulate the treated fuel throughout the system.

04. Keep It Clean

Simple cleaning and lubricating can prevent plenty of future issues. Use a fogging spray for the internal engine components, grease and lubricate the grease fittings, then scrub the bilges with hot water and a stiff brush before spraying with moisture displacing lubricant and adding some antifreeze.

It doesn’t hurt to give your boat’s exterior a solid cleaning and waxing before you retire it for the winter. But you’re probably cleaning and waxing on a regular basis, right?

05. Cover It Up

This one’s a bit obvious, sure, but covering your boat for the winter will keep it safe from the elements. If you can afford it, dry storage is the safest place to put your boat in the offseason.

06. Don’t Risk It

Remember, a lot of insurance policies don’t cover potential damage caused by neglect or lack of maintenance. So if you don’t winterize your boat and something does happen, you may have to eat that cost before setting sail in the spring.

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Tags: Maintenance, DIY



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